What is going on in Canada that foreign students have become more desirable than Canadian students whose extended families have been contributing to the Canadian economy for decades or longer. Yes, we know that international students spend oodles of money while they are here. But so what? Foreign students are just getting what they are paying for.
I mean, shouldn’t Canadians — be they long time residents or landed immigrants — deserve first consideration when it comes to handing out taxpayers dollars? Well, I guess in this case, actions speak every bit as loud as words.
This week, for example, the Conservative appointed “Canadian International Education Strategy” advisory panel released a report (see also this Google search page) recommending there be a huge increase in foreign student scholarships in the coming years. Why you ask? As the answer to Canadian innovation and investment and future job shortages. Are we to assume, then, that ordinary Canadians are not the answer?
Well, it seems that the federal committee is not the only one gearing up for an increase in foreign students. Check out this Macleans article. The governments in B.C., Nova Scotia and Ontario are leading the same kind of charge. In fact, the Dalton McGuinty government is on record for suggesting $40,000 scholarships for international graduate students.
Well, hello? Am I missing something here? Whether the government is Conservative, Liberal or NDP, the future of Canadian jobs does not seem to lie with our children and grandchildren, but with foreign children and grandchildren. And, no I am not referring to landed immigrants. To my mind, they are already Canadian. I am talking about students who will stay here three or four years, spend their money while they are here and then they leave and get a job in their own country — where they will pay taxes.
Yes, it is nice to have foreign students in our midst. As a former university professor, I always enjoyed their presence in my courses, or for thesis supervision, because they usually offered a unique perspective. As I said in my last paragraph, they certainly contribute to local economies. Of course, while they are in Canada, they also add to the multicultural mosaic.
However, why are Canada’s governments looking to foreign students for innovation and future job shortages? And, why are they doing that at the same time they are cutting scholarships for Canadian students?
For example, as an article in “Arthur (Trent University’s student newspaper) states, the McGuinty Liberals will be cutting the Ontario Work Study Program. It is a program that allows students on Ontario Works (usually single parents) to attend university while working and getting experience in a part-time job. Meaning, the Ontario government is cutting the very program that would be a way out of the welfare trap.
Anyway, back to the latest federal report. Does the International Education Committee not realize how bad it sounds to hint that there are so few top students in Canada, universities are going to have to go abroad to find them? As well, do they not have a clue that provinces that are cutting funding for domestic student scholarships should not be “co-funding” them for foreign students who are going to leave the country once they graduate?
In my opinion, there is a self-fulfilling prophecy at work here. On the one hand, the federal and provincial governments make significant financial investments in foreign students allowing them to graduate from innovative programs and ready to fill anticipated job shortages. On the other hand, those same governments reduce or cut scholarships that would benefit needy and middle class Canadian students with the result that there are not enough Canadians to fill the anticipated job shortages.
Something is very wrong with this picture.